Conference Tourney Mini-Previews: ACC

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2008

Next Up:  ACC Tournament.  Does anyone else have the feeling that this league was consistently better when it was only nine teams?  At any rate, the ACC Tourney kicks off tomorrow for the 55th time, and while it used to deserve top billing on Fri/Sat of conference tourney weekend, we’re not sure that it places in the top four at this point.  The projected Big East, Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC semis all look more compelling to us.   

Where:  Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, NC

2008 ACC Tourney Bracket

The Favorite(s).  Um, Carolina?  Look, there are two really good teams in this conference (although Duke is flawed when it comes to the NCAAs), two johnny-come-latelys who will probably lose their first ACC and NCAA games (Miami and Virginia Tech), and a morass of mediocrity and inconsistency remaining.  UNC and Duke are too well coached and talented in March to lose to any of these teams – each can probably sleepwalk to the finals on Sunday, setting up the monumental spoogefest on ESPN all over again. 

The Darkhorse.  Maryland has enough talent to make a run in this tournament, if  only they could get over their tendency for brainlock, their complete lack of understanding of the game, and Gary Williams.  Maybe those are all the same things.  Still, to believe they could beat Duke and Carolina on consecutive days (days 3 and 4 of the tourney, mind you) is laughable.     

Bubble Buster Game.  If it comes to pass, Virginia Tech vs. Miami.  The Hurricanes have the better computer profile, but Virginia Tech was 9-7 in the conference.  In our opinion, both teams are complete garbage and shouldn’t even be considered for the NCAAs, but if the committee is looking at taking a fifth team from the ACC, Virginia Tech has the most to gain with a win here. 

Cinderella.  Both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have enough raw talent to win their first game and pull off a monumental upset in round two, but neither team has the consistency or discipline to turn that into a serious run at the title.  Expect Duke-Carolina in the finals again.   

Games We Want to See.   As we said above, there isn’t much worth watching here this season.  If Maryland can get to the Duke game, that would be interesting because that means the Terps are playing well enough to challenge the Devils.  And of course, the presumptive Duke-Carolina final will be intriguing, even if we have to wash ourselves of the Dickie V. effluvia afterwards.   

Champion.  Carolina.  They sometimes lose focus, but this is clearly the class of the conference, especially now that Tywon Lawson is back from injury.  The only team we see as having a serious shot at beating them is Duke, and that’s only if the threes are falling and Gerald Henderson’s elbow is freshly sharpened.  Otherwise, the Heels are the choice. 

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Conference Tourney Mini-Previews: Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2008

Next Up:  Pac-10 Tournament.  The best conference in America this year should provide us with more entertainment this weekend, as there are arguably nine teams who have enough talent to make a run and win this thing.  One question – why is it in the Staples Center every year?  Memo to the Pac-10 commisioners: there are other NBA arenas in Phoenix, Oakland, Portland and Seattle that would also make great venues for this event. 

Where:  Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Pac-10 Tourney Bracket

The Favorite(s).  Vegas Watch doesn’t have the Pac-10 odds up yet, but UCLA is sitting on a 94% chance at a #1 seed in the NCAAs, and they’re playing about ten miles from campus, so we’re going to go ahead and anoint them the easy favorite here.  There is some evidence that Ben Howland teams don’t take this tournament seriously, though, with three first-game losses in his four years at UCLA (although the Bruins did win the Pac-10 Tourney in 2006). 

The Darkhorse.  Take your pick.  The #9 seed, Cal, just played within a blown call and a circus shot of beating UCLA at Pauley last week.  The #7 seed, Arizona, took Kansas to overtime at Lawrence.  The #4 seed, USC, starts two potential lottery picks.  We could go on, but you get the point.  The Pac-10 is loaded, and anybody but the hapless Oregon St. Beavers could make a run at this title. 

Bubble Buster Game.  Arizona v. Stanford in round two.  Arizona has a tremendous computer profile with the #2 strength of schedule in the nation and a #29 RPI according to KenPom, but that 17-13 (8-10) record leaves a lot to be desired.  They’ll beat OSU tonight, but they really need to beat Stanford tomorrow to get to .500 in conference and add one more quality win to their resume.   If the Cardinal mails it in like they did last weekend at USC, Arizona should have a very good chance to win that game.  Oregon (#54 RPI) could also stand to beat Wazzu, but they’re terrible away from home this year, so we don’t expect that to happen.

Cinderella.  USC.  The Trojans have been playing a lot better lately, and if UCLA dumps the first game again, they should have a relatively easy path to the finals on Saturday.  Even if UCLA doesn’t dump that game, they’ve already defeated the Bruins once and played them very tough in another game.  Also, playing in familiar environs doesn’t hurt. 

Games We Want to See.   Basically, all of them.  No other league has as much individual talent or intriguing contrasts in style of play as the Pac-10, so this should be a great tournament.  If it comes down to it, though, we’re hoping for a third matchup between the two LA schools, followed by Stanford getting another shot against the Bruins on Saturday. 

Champion.  We’re not sure Stanford will ever recover from their collapse and screwing in Westwood last week, nor do we have enough faith that the Bruins will put their best foot forward in this event.  Wazzu and ASU are good choices to fill the void, but we really like the way USC has been playing in recent weeks, and we think maybe they’ll put it all together this weekend to make a nice run (only to get overconfident and drop their first round game next week, of course).  So our champion is USC.    

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Conference Tourney Mini-Previews: Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2008

Next Up:  Big Ten Tournament.  Who can predict this tournament?  Every team has a flaw or three.  Of the top four seeds, Wisconsin runs a program system, MSU can’t win away from E. Lansing, Indiana is on the brink of implosion and Purdue plays a bunch of freshmen.  If we’re feeling sleepy next weekend, we’ll just turn over to one of these games for a certain sedative. 

Where:  Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
  Thursday – Sunday

Big 10 Tourney Bracket

The Favorite(s).  Wisconsin is the favorite because the Badgers went 16-2 and proved itself very proficient at beating other Big Ten teams.  The one team it couldn’t defeat in two attempts?  Purdue.  Guess who should be waiting on UW in the finals, assuming it can get past the MSU/OSU winner?  That’s right, Purdue.   

The Darkhorse.  Indiana.  Huge IF here.  Indiana is the darkhorse candidate, playing in a Hoosier-friendly environment, IF they can get over the funk they’ve been lost in since Dan Dakich took over as head coach.   Losing at Penn St. and getting obliterated by Michigan St. on consecutive weekends doesn’t portend well, but their talent cannot be denied. 

Bubble Buster Game.  Ohio St. is the only bubble team in the league this year, so they could use another win against Michigan St. on Friday.  Thad Matta has traditionally been a good tournament coach, and MSU simply cannot win games outside of Michigan, so we expect OSU to get this one.   

Cinderella.  Tough to say here, but how about Tubby’s Minnesota Gophers?  They get the easiest first round game, followed by a second round game with Team Turmoil.  A green Purdue team would stand in the way for a trip to the finals.  We’re not saying this will happen, but this is the best possibility.  It’s not our fault there are only about 2.5 decent teams in this league this year.

Games We Want to See.  Um, is none an acceptable answer?  If they came to pass, we’d watch an Indiana-Purdue rematch as well as a Michigan St. final against either of those teams.  We probably wouldn’t look forward to it, though.  And anything involving Wisconsin…  well, let’s just say that’s what Tivo is for. 

Champion.  We envision Wisconsin v. Purdue in the finals on Sunday, and we know that the Badgers can’t seem to get past the Boilermakers, so we like Purdue to cut down the nets with Robbie Hummels as the MVP. 

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